Blackberry Messenger Blamed over London Riots

Mike Halsey MVP
Aug 9, 2011
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Internet, Twitter

Blackberry has long been praised, and criticised for the security of it's email and messaging platform.  Most recently the company has faced commercial problems in some middle-eastern countries, most notable Saudi Arabia, where the authorities wanted to be able to get access to personal emails and messages for the purposes of fighting extremism (and some say for quelling rebellion) and didn't like the services being hosted in Blackberry maker RIM's native Canada.  Now Blackberry messenger has hit the headlines again in a negative way with the UK authorities saying it has been used in the last few days by youths organising gangs to loot and destroy property across London.

The riots in London, which were at first triggered by the shooting of a 29 year old man by Police last Thursday in circumstances which have not yet become clear, quickly escalated with opportunistic thugs and criminals burning cars and buildings, destroying homes and businesses and robbing and looting.  In scenes seen last night in the capitol, one youth was seen robbing another of all his clothes in the street, while an injured and dazed individual was robbed of his possessions while he tried to regain his balance.  These riots last night spread to other parts of England including Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham where copycat looting, destruction and violence towards the police was again seen.

blackberry london riotsBlackberry made a statement last night saying that it would cooperate with the British Police and release all messages sent by these criminal gangs to the authorities.  This will take time however which is causing frustration on the streets of Britain.

Unlike Twitter, which was commonly and very effectively used in some Arab countries recently and which helped bring the people of Egypt onto the streets to overthrow their president, Blackberry messenger allows users to send secure and encrypted messages to other Blackberry users.  This means the messages cannot be intercepted in real time.  The Metropolitan Police in London said they believe that criminal gangs were using this to co-ordinate the riots and chaos across the city, and to inform each other of the next targets to hit.

Twitter has also been used by the youths responsible for a string of violent attacks against police and property, though these messages are open and have been tracked in real time by the authorities and the press.

Blackberry Messenger needs the Blackberry Internet Service to function, rather than using a normal unencrypted web connection.  It offers facilities including chat groups and dedicated discussions while also allowing users to share pictures, audio recordings and files.  Perhaps more importantly it allows maps to be shared.  The network is only accessible by Blackberry devices and cannot be seen by people on other devices or desktop computers.  Blackberrys have long been favourites in business because of the security and encryption they offer.

How the information share from RIM will happen is as yet unclear.  So far over 400 young people have been arrested in London and it is highly likely that those with Blackberry's will have their mobile records released.  However there may be a wider claim made by the police for all mobile phones within certain cell areas during the times of the rioting.

So far there are no reports of any fatalities in the UK, though the eyes of the world will be on the country ahead of London hosting the Olympic games next summer.  There will be a reported 16,000 police from various forces around the UK on the streets of London tonight to try to bring the violence to an end.

UPDATE -----

In just the few minutes since this article was published, one man has been reported killed after being shot during the violence last night.  There are no further details as of this time.


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  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong..

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: []. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, has changed in quality.
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin:,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

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